Almanac

News - May 1, 2013

Robbery, assault, mail theft, car chase in Portola Valley

A Palo Alto man pleaded not guilty April 24 to robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, car burglary, possession of stolen property, and reckless driving after a series of incidents in Portola Valley on April 21.

Stefan Dombovic, 21, was arrested April 21 after he lost control of his vehicle and crashed down an an embankment in the 900 block of Westridge Drive, according to San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti and the Sheriff's Office.

"He was ordered out of the car and he yelled to the officers in a Russian accent, 'This has nothing to do with Boston,'" Ms. Guidotti said. Mr. Dombovic is a Chechen who lives in Palo Alto, she said.

The officers found about 129 pieces of mail from 18 local addresses in the car, she said. A Sheriff's Office report adds that Mr. Dombovic "forcibly entered" three mailboxes on Alamos Lane and two on Westridge Drive, both entries made with a baseball bat.

The string of incidents began at 10 p.m. Sunday, April 21. A 13-year-old Portola Valley boy reading in his bedroom heard a car come down the driveway of his home and park near his room. He went out to see what was going on and said he saw a man rummaging through his father's vehicle.

The boy asked the man what he was doing. The man allegedly yelled at the boy and charged at him with an aluminum baseball bat, hitting him in the shoulder, Ms. Guidotti said. The man then fled in a gold Toyota SUV, deputies said.

Deputies were already in the area to respond to a nearby car burglary. They saw the SUV driving on the wrong side of the road with the car lights off. A car chase ensued, with the pursued car accelerating to 60 miles per hour, Ms. Guidotti said.

Deputies said they "determined that he was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage."

Mr. Dombovic appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court on Wednesday, April 24, and pleaded not guilty. His bail was set at $50,000. A preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m. May 7.

Reporting by Elena Kadvany and Dave Bocye.

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